Cross country runners win both male, female individual titles in 2nd league meet

By Julius Pak

 For the first time since the new league cluster format started, the cross country teams captured the top running spots in the boys’ and girls’ races in a league meet.

Aaron de Toledo ’12, who broke years of Loyola domination with his 15:20 course time at the league cluster meet at Woodley Park, joined Amy Weissenbach ’12 as the winners of their races on Oct. 7.

Both de Toledo and Weissenbach were in fifth place at the halfway mark, but both surged in the last mile to win.

“I tried to put myself in position to win with a mile to go,” de Toledo told the LA Daily News. “It’s a testament to how strong our program has become when we have two individual winners. Our expectations have risen a lot because both programs are really strong. We used to think to run under 17 minutes was impressive. Today, we had four guys go under 17.”

“[de Toledo’s] a guy that just does everything right. From top to bottom, if you had to pick the sort of things that coaches like, he does [them],” Head Coach Tim Sharpe said. “All those things add up. It’s his undying enthusiasm for his team. He wants his team to be good and wants to be a part of a team that has high expectations and goals.”

The girls’ team won its second consecutive league meet of the season.

However, the victory was closer this meet, as the runner-up, Notre Dame, trailed by only four points. By comparison, the Wolverines, at the first league meet on Sept. 13, beat Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy by 10 points.

Still, Weissenbach asserted Harvard-Westlake’s dominance in the league by finishing with a time of 18:15, a full 18 seconds ahead of the pack.

Monica Nimmagadda ’14 and Yasmin Moreno ’13 finished one after another into sixth and seventh places.

Elle Wilson ’13, Caitlin Yee ’13, and Lizzie Thomas ’14 also finished together in 11th through 13th places. Audrey Wilson ’15, in her first league meet on the varsity squad, came in 26th place.

Despite de Toledo’s win, the boys’ team placed fourth, losing out to defending champions Loyola, whose scored runners all finished in the top 13, by 44 points. Freshman Ben Weissenbach ’15, the team’s second-fastest runner at the meet, came in 17th; Larry Zhang ’14 two places after. Judd Liebman ’12, recovering from an injury, took 24th place. Justin Berman ’13 rounded out the Wolverines’ scored runners, 103 seconds after de Toledo’s finish, in 27th place.

Each team was missing a key runner for the meet. Back-to-back state champion Cami Chapus ’12 was out of town. Chapus currently holds the fastest time in the state for a 3-mile course, having run the course at Estancia High School in 16:20. David Manahan ’14, the fastest freshman in the nation last year, was out with a back injury. However, Manahan is been cleared to run, Sharpe said. “Our expectation is that he will be 100% healthy by league finals.”

The team’s next meet is the Mt. San Antonio College invitational at Mt. San Antonio College this weekend. From there, the teams go into their post-seasons, starting with the Mission League Finals, of which the girls are the defending champions, on Nov. 2 at Crescenta Valley Park. The girls’ team and Chapus will be looking to defend their respective state championships, while the boys’ team will seek to finally upset Loyola after the team came in second last year.